interview with Matt Cutts from Google, on the topic of next-generation search, we touched on how Google is tackling the issue of indexing (and advertising around) online video. Matt implied that Google is looking for an equivalent to PageRank for online video:In yesterday's
"...in the Web we have this notion of reputation - which is PageRank, it's how many
people link to your site and it's also the quality of that incoming set of links. So
it's fun to think about things like reputation in video search - whether it be for Google
Video or YouTube - because you don't have links necessarily. You might have things
that are somewhat similar to links, but you look at the quality of the users, the quality
of the ratings. I think in lots of ways it gives Google good practice to think about the
power of people, and the power of trust - and how to apply that in a lot of different
One word which Matt didn't use, but which probably sums up what Google is trying to achieve with online video indexing, is relevancy. Google wants to find ways to rank video, so that the most relevant results display first. Also relevancy is key for contextual advertising. While all this sounds obvious, for video relevancy is a largely unsolved problem right now.
According to Matt, the key values for online video search are: reputation, power of people and trust indicators. The problem though is how to measure those values in video. With textual content, Google found the winning formula back in the mid-to-late 90's with PageRank - which uses links as the main measure of relevancy. But so far no company, not even Google, has found the equivalent of PageRank for video.
Read/WriteWeb's John Milan was recently musing on this. He told me that recently he went to YouTube to watch a couple of videos, and was surprised by what he didn't see - advertising. The only thing he could find was a somewhat subtle Verizon ad supporting YouTube's mobile content. When he went to view videos, there was an ad above the video, but it was advertising by YouTube itself - promoting new features. John's conclusion was that Google has not been able to crack digital relevancy as they have with text.
The stakes for this ability could not be higher. If anything, images seem to be more compelling than words. How else to explain the explosion of YouTube, or the many pictures that make it to the top of Digg, or a single pretty rainbow (from which John got nearly 100k page views from a Digg)? Creating the algorithms for digital media relevancy represents the great race being run among Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, Digg, MySpace; and anyone else looking to monetize digital content that people love to see.
Image derived from photo by m.michael. Thanks also to John Milan for the info in the last two paragraphs.